This is to continue that snowball, and to (hopefully) make you feel smarter, if only by association. I'll kick a quick shout out to she who got the ball rolling, dodyskin
For those of you not familiar with the National Park system of the Rocky Mountains, The Grand Teton National Park is located a handful of miles south of Yellowstone National Park. There are grizzlies, foxes, wolves, bison, etc. Untamed and free. It truly is a beautiful place, and an alien one to most people, apparently.
Yellowstone (once home to Yogi Bear under its flagship name, Jellystone) is the home of Old Faithful, a geyser. At that location are about 300 smaller geysers, spread about a few acres of land. Did you sleep that day in geology? A lot of people did. And those same people don't read signs posted along trails, either. The land there is really a thin layer of minerals and salts. A crust of earth riding over a pocket of water that, in turn, is located over a POCKET OF MAGMA. Molten rock. Lava. It heats up the water, water bursts forth from the earth at skynormous temperatures. In other words, hotter than boiling is this water of which I speak.
That crust is unstable in many places. It is not uncommon for the rangers to do their check in the early AM and find a half dissolved carcas of a bison, after poor little guy punched through the crust and was boiled/steamed alive. *shudder* As a result, there is a suspended walkway that takes you through the chain of geysers. Most don't erupt, they bubble up and back down into the ground. Nature's little flush. But they are pretty, and have mineral deposits that create beautiful colors, and oh yeah: heated by MAGMA.
I'm off on this fine day, taking a stroll through the park and enjoying the weather, the naked chipmunks (really - they burrow underground and have no fur from the heat) and the day in general. About 100 feet in front of me I see a mother and her three kids, the oldest couldn't be more than 10. Disregarding the signs every 50 feet that say: Stay on path! Ground Unstable! Do not touch! FUCKING MAGMA, PEOPLE!! the mother stands back and watches her daughter (8? 9 years old?) flop down onto her tummy and say, "I wanna see if they're hot." AND SHE STUCK HER ARM INTO A GEYSER UP TO HER ELBOW. Her mom watched.
I dropped my backpack and ran straight to her screaming, "no!! NO!!" and see the child jerk her arm out and clutch it, screaming, "Ow! Mommy, it hurts!" Her arm is a nasty shade of violet. But wait! There's more. The mom starts rolling up her sleeve, squats down, and replies, "are you sure?" and leans over to TRY IT OUT FOR HERSELF. I skidded to a stop, chin dropped, turned and grabbed my pack. I went straight to the ranger station, told them they had two people coming in with second degree bu- "Ervil, we got a couple a code 2's walking." Code 2. Not code 413, or 87995, but code 2. 'Cause it happens a lot.
On my way back to my park I see a traffic jam ahead next to a stream. Not uncommon as it's feeding time. It never ceases to amaze me how many people have never seen a deer. I make my way around the parked cars and see it's a BISON and her baby, and people are getting waaay to close to her. (Bison can outrun a horse, can jump 8 feet straight up, and can charge at 35 miles an hour. And they have wicked horns that will go through you.) Some moron is carrying his 4 year old son over to it, with mom on the sidelines holding her camera at the ready. My partner mutters, "shit," checks her gun, and we make our way to them. The dad is LIFTING HIS SON as if to put him on the WILD ANIMAL'S back, and the mama buffalo is pawing the ground with her hooves, and sharpening her horn on the ground. (Ever see that Buggs Bunny with the Bull? They didn't.) Now, if that animal charges the crowd, my partner is going to have to shoot it and take it out. We are able to disperse the crowd and get everyone to back away enough for the animals to make an escape. And the crowd was put out with us. They aren't tame animals! This isn't a zoo! Morons.
The year before we fined someone $15,000 and put them in jail and in touch with Child Protective Services for spreading honey on their toddler's feet and leaving them in a clearing, hoping to get a picture of a black bear licking the honey off. Wouldn't that just be precious?? What a Christmas card! A little holly draped over the missing feet and we have something magical. If you recognize yourself in any of these stories, I'm truly surprised you are still counted among the living.
Here's where I was staioned: you should go! And be smart. http://www.signalmtnlodge.com/
Here is a pic from the geyser chains (this is similar to what Crispy McCrispins stuck her hand in) http://www.nps.gov/yell/tours/oldfaithful/heartspr.htm
Here is a pic of buffalo and info about them: http://www.nps.gov/yell/nature/animals/bison/bison.html